Silent Night
directed by Rodney Gibbons
(Muse, 2002)

Silent Night is another of the movies that has become a part of my holiday tradition. It is a serious, deep, thought-provoking movie that will touch your soul and remind you what Christmas is all about.

This is a true story from war-torn 1944 Germany -- the story of how one woman enacted a Christmas cease-fire and changed lives forever.

Elizabeth Vincken (Linda Hamilton) is a German school teacher with a husband serving as a baker in the German army that she has not heard from in more than two months. With a son old enough to be pressed into service with Hitler's army, she has moved out of the city to a cabin in the woods. Fritz (Matthew Harbour) wants to join the war, but she tells him he cannot. She makes him speak English and read English-language classics aloud.

The fighting is near the cabin on Christmas Eve. Three American soldiers come through the door: Sgt. Ralph Blank (Alain Goulem), Pvt. Jimmy Rassi (Romano Orzari) and Pvt. Herbie Ridgin (Michael Elkin). Herbie has an upper-thigh wound and is bleeding badly.

While they are occupied with the wounded soldier, Fritz takes their weapons outside and hides them. Elizabeth explains that they may stay, but she does not allow guns in her home.

Within minutes, three German soldiers -- Lt. Hans Klosterman (Martin Neufeld), Sgt. Marcus Mueller (Mark Anthony Krupa) and Pvt. Peter Heinrich (Cassian Bopp) -- arrive and are likewise unarmed. Elizabeth forces the soldiers to agree to a truce while in her home. She reminds them that this is "the holiest of nights."

Can these six sworn enemies get through the night without killing each other? What will happen to Fritz and Elizabeth? Will the spirit of Christmas prevail? Is it enough to bridge the gaps and heal all the wounds that each of these persons carries?

Silent Night is the psychological suspense drama of Christmas. It gets inside your head and unleashes a cyclone. You will not get the next move figured out because this story is totally unpredictable. It goes from one surprise to another. Remember that this is not a work of fiction that follows a plot formula, but a true story that proves that truth really can be stranger than fiction ... and a lot more unpredictable, especially when humans are placed under the pressures of war.

Each of these actors was brilliant. They carried their emotions from the most dramatic expression to the most subtle nuance. At times, each came close to tears, as the closeups revealed. Not one of these roles could have been played better.

There are no special effects or fancy sets. The entire film depends upon great acting and it was shot entirely in a three-room cabin and the surrounding yard.

Everybody should see this movie. It proves what a difference one person can make. You will not be disappointed in the least. Silent Night is a movie of the highest caliber that will reinforce the Christmas spirit within almost any viewer.

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

11 July 2009

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